Alice Soragni, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, received a $1.8 million, five-year R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop better ways to treat and detect ovarian cancer.

The grant will help support Soragni and her team’s investigation into the role of a protein called p53, which is commonly mutated in women who have high-grade serous ovarian cancer, the deadliest form of reproductive cancer. More than 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year and only about 47% survive longer than five years.

“By the time this type of cancer is diagnosed, it is most often so advanced that it is very challenging to treat,” said Soragni, who is also a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This project will determine whether p53 aggregation is a feature that can be used to discriminate pre-malignant tissue from normal tissue, and can be targeted for early therapy and prevention of ovarian cancer.”

The team will also be looking at the peptide drug, ReACp53, which was developed by Soragni and other UCLA researchers and is currently in clinical development as an anti-cancer therapy to see if it can be effective in preventing precancerous lesions to becoming full-blown ovarian cancer.